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Discussion in 'The Shining' started by Christine62, Jan 10, 2014.
I could cross stitch that.
Yes you could!
Possessed Jack would very cross stitch it.
because it's there, and it's cool.
I'm sure someone's talked about it already somewhere but has anyone seen Room 237? It's a documentary about people's different theories about the film, mainly that The Shining is his veiled confession that he somehow took part in/filmed the staging of the moon landing. Really fascinating, regardless of how it relates to the book itself. But I agree with King, the film and it's characters were just cold. Scary as he'll, and there have been times where I actually had to stop watching it (same with the exorcist) because I was so terrified! The guy in the bear suit doing a little something something to the other guy?!?! Creepy!!! But yeah, the ending of the book where after Danny and Wendy had left the overlook and he's reflecting on his father, grieving, that is what made the shining a "warm" story to me- for me, it's not about one mans descent into lunacy as much as it about a terribly gifted little boy who despite his fathers sins, loves him just the same.
To be fair, Jack Nicholson used the experience as training for his role as the Joker in Batman. Of course, he was funnier in The Shining. No offense, Jack.
Here's part of what I had to say about this film on my blog:
Spoiler: long post
"I'll give you my own personal history with this book before I go too much further. I read The Shining well before seeing the movie, and I loved it. This is a novel that goes beyond mere "scares" and really gets under your skin. There's a creeping dread that builds gradually but inexorably that starts on page one and just gets bigger, and you keep hoping against hope that the inevitable can be avoided, even as you begin to realize that no, it won't be.
Then I watched the movie. And I hated it. I hated it so badly it made me angry.
Gone was the character development. Gone was the creeping dread, replaced by scare chords and an unhinged performance from Nicholson that started with the dial at nine, cranked up to 11 barely an hour in and broke the knob off. Gone was the palpable struggle each of the main characters were going through, replaced by standard horror movie cliches.
I've grown up a lot since then. I watched the movie more recently and had to admit, if I'd never read the book, I wouldn't care a whit about it being so different. The movie, as a horror movie, just plain works, and that's okay. No, it's not King's story, and there is no question in my mind that Kubrick was intentionally telling a different one.
But here's my problem; the movie may be excellent, but the novel is still a great novel, and unfortunately in the last decade or so there are people who have started trash-talking King and this book as though it's a piece of garbage and Kubrick came along and "fixed" it. I don't know how many people I've seen advising others to just watch the movie and skip the novel, which they describe as "lame" and "boring".
The movie was great. I'm willing to go that far. But was the movie better than the novel? I would argue no, and as far as I'm concerned, if you truly believe that, you either haven't read the novel, or you read it expecting it to be a scare-a-minute fest like the movie was. It isn't, but it isn't meant to be.
For that matter, I still have a problem with how the movie handled the character of Jack Torrance. This is likely what King's problem stemmed from as well. The subject of alcoholism is one that King returned to many times in his writing career, and for good reason; he was dealing with it himself. He was so far gone that he doesn't even remember writing the novel Cujo and in fact wrote many of his early novels while screaming drunk. The first novel he wrote entirely sober was Needful Things in 1991. Very often he tried working out his addiction issues in his characters, and I don't think any character was more Stephen King himself than Jack Torrance.
Book Jack is a scarred man, raised by a drunken, abusive father, who found himself a much slave to the bottle as his father had been. Despite this, and his anger issues, he wants nothing more than to be a loving husband and father. At least, he wants to want it. But he wants drinks more, and he makes excuses for himself that send him careering into a living nightmare in which he realizes he's turning into his father. When he finally realizes he's gone too far, after an incident where he drunkenly breaks his son's arm and then runs over a bicycle, realizing he might have killed someone, he goes sober and, by the time the story starts, has been for over a year. His anger management issues are still there, evidenced by him beating the **** out of a disgruntled student who slashed his tires, ultimately costing him his job, but at the start of the book, he's seemingly ready to be the man he's always wanted to be. He's stone cold sober, he and his wife, who found themselves facing divorce, are happy and in love again, and his relationship with his son, five-year-old Danny, couldn't be stronger. He's even found a temporary job as winter caretaker for the remote Overlook hotel, a job that will keep him and his family fed and cared for, and give him time to finish a play he's working on, while he tries to get back into the school's good graces. But then a combination of isolation, his own inner demons and the physical demons within the hotel start working on him, driving him slowly mad even as he fights it.
Movie Jack is an insane, abusive husband and father who can't stand his family and spends his job interview displaying a slasher smile. When it's mentioned in the interview that the last caretaker went crazy and killed his family with an axe, you can practically see Movie Jack thinking "Oh, an axe! That's perfect! I was gonna use a Roque mallet but an axe would get the job done much faster!" No sooner has he gotten his family up where nobody can get to them than he turns on them, first just speaking to them like the evil abusive man he is, then chasing them with an axe and trying to do the same thing the last caretaker did, something he was clearly capable of well before he got to the hotel.
Oh, and he's an alcoholic as well.
The movie sort of glosses over this critical aspect of his character. It's present, but it's made pretty clear that he doesn't need it to be evil. We're barely 45 minutes in (the movie itself is two and half hours long), and Jack hasn't had a drop to drink, when he browbeats Wendy for interrupting him using horrendously abusive language that Wendy, apparently used to it, takes in stride, and does her best to keep from bothering him again. Book Wendy would have slapped him, called him a bastard, and locked she and Danny away from him. It's like Kubrick's take on Jack's drinking problem was "Yeah, sure, why wouldn't an abusive monster also be an alcoholic?"
Just how much of a non-factor is Jack's drinking? It's not even brought up in his job interview. In the book, hotel manager Ullman is hiring Jack because the hotel owners (one of whom Jack is tight with) ordered him to, but makes it clear that if it were up to him, he wouldn't do it. He doesn't trust a drunk. It's the first chapter of the novel, showing that Jack's struggle to put his demons to rest will always be dogged by the fact that no one will let him forget the man he's trying, and mostly succeeding, to stop being. Movie Jack and Movie Ullman get along fine, and if anything, it's Jack who's more hostile during the interview. More creepy, at any rate.
We also only get one, maybe two, scenes of the hotel trying to force Jack to drink, and the way it's presented makes it seem like it's all in Jack's mind. In fact, there are still discussions today among fans of the film about whether or not the ghosts were real or whether they were just Jack's inner demons being given visual form by Danny's powers.
And speaking of those powers, they're sorta shunted to the side as well; definitely present, but by no means the focus. I mean the freaking title is The Shining, so named because Danny has a very bright "shine" (incredibly strong psychic ability), and the hotel wants to absorb him into itself so that it can use that ability to physically manifest the ghosts and demons that infest it. In fact, just his being there makes the demonic force behind the hotel stronger, and its purpose is to get Jack to go mad, prodding his alcoholic nature and violent temper, so that he will kill Danny and the hotel can have him forever.
In the movie, Jack wants to kill Danny because Jack's a crazy bastard."